Panthers tight end Greg Olsen giving back after off-the-field fight of lifetime

by: Blair Miller Updated:

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. —

On any given game day, the winner is defined by the battles for victory.

But it's Greg Olsen's fight of a lifetime that took place away from the football field – a fight for his family.

Last year, when the Panthers tight end and his wife had twins, one of them had a rare heart defect.

Doctors weren't sure if T.J. could even survive the delivery.

He spent 35 days in the hospital.

Now, just a year later at Greg and Kara Olsen's home, it's hard to keep up with their three children.

RAW: Greg Olsen and his family time

T.J. and his twin sister, Talbot, are now 1. Their older brother, Tate, is 2 years old.

T.J. is now thriving at home and has been through two surgeries and still has one left.

But they all know it's been hard getting to where they are today.

"I don't think we ever thought we would be at this point, living a relatively normal life," Kara said.

"We didn't know if he was going to make it," Greg said. "We had 24-hour around-the-clock care for him and we personally believe it's a huge reason why he's doing so well today and we want to bring that care to all the children that are born with this discharge here."

RAW: Greg Olsen discusses care for his child

That's when Greg and Kara decided to do more to help other families that maybe don't have the resources to care for a child requiring constant care.

They created Receptions for Research and have already donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Levine Children's Hospital in Charlotte to help families in similar situations.

They have also held benefits to not only raise money, but raise awareness.

Greg describes the foundation's mission as, "Helping the family transition from the hospital and doctors into the home with a little bit of the transition process to really make sure these babies are cared for properly."

That care T.J. found right at home.

"We're thankful for every day that we have together now," Kara said. "There's new perspective."

RAW: Greg Olsen's wife talks about importance of family

"We made it through this, I think we can make it pretty much through anything," Greg said.

The Olsen are making it through one day at a time, one battle at a time and focused on the simple things far from the field and close to their heart.

"Who is your favorite player on the Carolina Panthers," Greg asked Tate.

"Cam Newton," Tate says.

For complete coverage on the Panthers' big matchup with the Patriots, visit our sports page here.